Peter Gilbert and Veronica Raybould
The number of students who opt to continue their education at age 16+ has increased dramatically before and into the new millennium. To both create and respond to this demand for continuing education, new courses have been introduced, most notably vocational courses such as the General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ). Students from widely varying academic backgrounds may be following a range of courses in the sixth-form of a secondary school, a sixth form college or college of further education. They may be retaking GCSE English or English literature or following a Key Skills course at Level 2. They may be following GNVQ at Level 2 or an AVCE, or have opted for AS or A2 level English language, English literature or English (a combination of language and literature). Post-16 courses in drama, theatre, communication and Media Studies also have an English base but demand additional specialised knowledge and skills. (See also Chapter 6.3. in Capel et al., 1995.)
Because students choose to study post-16, there is a different ethos surrounding the sixth form in school and sixth form and further education colleges. Students are given new freedoms: a different dress code; free periods; a less rigid punishment system. These changes are associated with a transition from teacher dependency to independence in learning.
It is likely that every school with a sixth form will have a number of students following General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) courses at Levels 1 and 2. Many will also have students following Vocational A levels (AVCEs).